Thursday, December 31, 2009

Audio Dramas: Ride The Streets Of Mega City With Judge Dredd

At first glance one would think that converting such a stylized  futuristic and post apocalyptic comic book to audio would be a crazy notion that would get one locked up in an Iso-cube for many a year for even the Thought Crime needed to conceive the notion. But the style of 2000 A.D. lends its self well to this format and the masters of sound production at Big Finish actually paint a vary vibrant landscape for your mind’s eye to enjoy. Minus the smudged ink stains on your fingers as an added bonus.

Now before I go any further let us get something clear. This series has little to do with the mid 90’s movie adaption of the famous British comic icon. No Sly Stallone imitations, references or utterances can be made in comparison to these fine audio works in regards to that film. However, and I’m not afraid to say it, I do have a bit of a love for the campy version of the 2000 A.D. universe that the movie does seem to capture well. And, gulp, I may happen to own a copy of it on Laser Disc. no, I’m not kidding.

But back to the matters at hand. This sonic version of Dredd is firmly rooted in the classic age of the character. Knowing the back-story of the Rogue’s Gallery for the Judges is helpful but not required reading for audio enjoyment of these stories. The series does a good job in providing exposition on the fly. And before you know it you will know your Judge Death from your Judge Anderson in no time.

The series also sports some tremendous voice acting. Toby Longworth does an amazing job at embodying the grizzled veteran lawman. You hear his years on the streets in every story. His take on the role is fantastic for what some would say is a two dimensional funny book hero. However, the supporting cast does just as well in many of the plays in this series. Most notable is Simon Pegg, pre “Shaun of the Dead” and “Star Trek” days, as Johnny Alpha in the Strontium Dog stories. Each episode has its own cast of Big Finish regulars as well making it a treat to listen to if you follow the other ranges offered by the company.

The sound design is also a star attraction. the roar of the Lawmasters, the sound of the Lawgivers various weaponry and the attention to detail to the actors placement in their environments immerse you in the universe of the universe of the Cursed Earth. Headphones are a must with this range.

But to make this version of Dredd work you need some mighty fine writing. Clever satire is a trademark of the 2000 A.D. series and the audio counterpart is no slouch in this area at all. Hidden meanings, jokes on culture and plays on words abound in the series. Better yet, the stories move at a quick pace and rarely do they have to rely on visual descriptions to get the point of view of the action across to the listener.

If you stay with the series throughout the 18 episode run you will find some continuity and call backs to earlier stories. Moreover, long periods of time spent with the Judges and their adversaries may just have you speaking Mega City slang like a pro. This secondary Orwellian DoubleSpeak goes a long way in explaining the culture, or lack their of in some cases, of the world in which the Judges try their criminals. And it is one of the aspects of the series that is most like its comic book cousin.

The series only ran for 18 episodes, however, it has been reassigned to the “Chronicles” line of stories earlier this year. The new audio book format has been awarded four adventures, the first of which reported for duty in October 2009. Hopefully this will bring about another tour of duty for judge Joseph Dredd and crew in 2010. Those who are looking for some Sci Fi action though may like that there are a smaller number of stories to collect though.

If you are interested in learning more about these great audios then visit the Big Finish website at the link below.

To learn more about the characters and the worlds of 2000 A.D. go to this Wiki page..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.